The Los Angeles Lakers have hit their first injury bump with Trevor Ariza who is out with an ankle injury. Ariza was signed in the offseason and is now expected to miss at least eight weeks of action.
The Lakers have a lot of hype heading into the season with a big three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. They paired these big three with veteran role players as well as a few young players. The Lakers will now be without Ariza for the first couple of months of the season and will have to adjust.
Why Trevor Ariza’s absence isn’t a big deal
While Ariza was set to be a great role player, general manager Rob Pelinka has built a well-rounded roster. This injury won’t be a big deal since the Lakers have depth. At the wing position, the Lakers have LeBron as well as Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore. If needed, the Lakers could slide Talen Horton-Tucker to distribute more wing minutes. A big part of Horton-Tucker’s game is his versatility, as he can play both guard positions and small forward.
Horton-Tucker’s play could prove to be the most important with Ariza out. In the offseason, he put an emphasis on improving defense as well as his three-point shooting. Last season, he averaged 9 points per game and was a real spark plug off the bench. This year, many expect the young guard to grow and potentially have a breakout campaign.
Rob Pelinka made a comment saying, “There’s nothing Talen doesn’t have to keep him from being an elite player,” (Lakersdaily).
Horton-Tucker’s play will be even more vital during Ariza’s absence.
The impact of the Lakers big three
While the depth of the Lakers is great, the biggest reason Ariza’s absence isn’t a big deal is they have a big three and not just two. When you have three star players, injuries are not as concerning early in the season. If Ariza’s injury came playoff time, it would be more of a cause for concern. With Westbrook, James, and Davis, the Lakers will still win games at the start of the season. This trio is destined to be great and could lead the Lakers to the promised land. The league has seen what James and Davis can do together, and the addition of Westbrook only makes them deadlier.
With the Washington Wizards last season, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points per game as well as 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists. This was Westbrook’s 4th season averaging a triple-double, with the only other player averaging a triple-double being Oscar Robertson, who did it for one season. Westbrook and James’ passing could lead Davis to have a monster season.
Anthony Davis made a comment saying, “The guys have talked to me about ‘this is your team, we go as you go,” (NBC Sports).
Davis will be the key for the Lakers this season, and his willingness to play center this year is significant. Davis playing center allows the Lakers to have more shooting and versatile lineups around the big three. Ariza looks to fit well alongside the big three, but fans will have to wait a couple of months to see.
The Lakers will be fine while Ariza is out, but he will be a key role player when he returns.